Startups continue to introduce interesting browser-based tools that augment users’ experiences of finding, sharing and organizing information on the Web.
Netex is set to join this party April 21 with the beta launch of Springo. Billed as a free Web navigation and discovery tool, Springo is a sort of search middleman that directs users in the attempt to find what they’re looking for from popular Websites.
If this sounds like another tool to help users find the data needle in the crowded Web haystack of 200 million live Websites, it is. While Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo try their best to accommodate search needs, they don’t always serve the user base, Netex CEO Aviv Refuah told eWEEK.
“Regular search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo have very good services, but usually they give you a lot of information,” Refuah said. “It’s good for [research] and when you want to get 1 million results per query. But most users want to get to a specific Website or a group of leading Websites that can give them the most professional services.”
Springo’s Visual Navigation Solution presents popular U.S. Websites in a user-friendly, button-style palette, which has also been optimized for users of touch-screen phones such as the Apple iPhone and smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system.
The home page displays buttons that connect users to Google, YouTube, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo and other leading sites.
The page also lists several popular Websites across more specific categories, including news (CNN), music (MTV), video (Hulu), online games (Zynga), kids (Club Penguin) and many more verticals. Users can make Springo the home page for their PCs.
For categories that aren’t listed, Springo features a search box atop its palette in which users can type in queries that get directed to other Websites. In this sense, Springo is a search service competing with Google, Bing and Yahoo.
But Springo analyzes and ranks Websites it lists based on the real-time activity of Internet users. A search on “jobs” brings up Monster.com, the most trafficked career site, followed by Career Builder and many more.
Springo also provides more specific career categories. For the jobs query, Job Search Engines, Professionals and Freelancers, Payment for Web Activities, R??Â«sum??Â« Services and Human Resources Agencies were listed as options.
How Springo Works
Users can narrow and expand searches as they deem necessary-including specifying free or paid services-and click a scroll arrow to see more options as they search.
It could prove problematic if Springo made users click through to these popular sites. That’s why the tool lets users hover over each button to see a detailed description of the Website to make sure the user wants to click through and visit it.
To support tool bar lovers out there, Netex also offers Springo Express, a browser add-on that delivers users top Websites to complement their Google, Bing and Yahoo search results.
Direct navigation from the browser address bar means users can reach their desired Websites by entering a site’s name or topic rather than URL. Springo Express recognizes the Website currently being visited and suggests similar sites that likely also address the user’s needs.
This philosophy of providing an alternative approach to drab, generic Web search is a variation on a broad theme as seen in Web search and navigation startups such as Wowd and social search engines Hunch and Aardvark, which Google acquired.
Springo offers no social element. Users don’t ask a question and wait for a response. They still receive machine-generated answers based on the rank of the most well-trafficked Websites.
Springo is blending the keyword search approach with which users are already comfortable with an experience that is more visually pleasing and is simple to use.
Could Springo replace popular search engines? Sure, but it depends on how tired a user is of doing proverbial needle-in-the-haystack searches.
While the high-tech elite crowds might use these tools as alternatives to Google, Bing and Yahoo, the consumer majority is not ready to go to Springo.
But search, like other Internet technologies, evolves. When users are ready to evolve with it, Springo could be a nice solution.